A CYCLIST has praised a local resident who helped her recover a valuable attachment for her quadriplegic husband’s wheelchair which was stolen in a raid on the couple’s garage.
Rhona and Mike Copp were devastated when they discovered the specialist handbike had been taken by thieves who forced entry to the outbuilding at their home in Gainsborough Avenue, New Milton, during Sunday night.
Custom-made to 68-year-old Mr Copp’s measurements and worth around £3,000, the apparatus allows him to regularly join his wife on long cycle rides.
Mrs Copp (58) called it “his absolute lifeline”.
She recovered it undamaged from a road by the nearby Ferndale Post Office on Monday following a tip-off from a woman who responded to her appeal on Facebook.
The offenders also escaped with two of Mrs Copp’s bicycles – a Giant Liv Avail Pro race bike, with a carbon frame in black with gold writing; and a white Giant mountain bike. Valued at around £2,500 in total, these are still missing.
Mrs Copp told the A&T on Monday she discovered the theft when she went out to the garage around 9am and saw the electronic door was part open.
“My husband was devastated and absolutely heartbroken. It’s such a difficult thing to replace. I felt so gutted for him, really,” she said.
“The company which makes them is based in Liverpool so to traipse up there is quite a journey, and under the current circumstances we probably wouldn’t be able to do that anyway.”
She added: “It’s his absolute lifeline. He goes out on it most days. It’s his exercise, it’s his freedom, and it’s us going out together. It’s a huge part of his life.”
Mr Copp, who has been disabled since being hit by a car when he was 20, purchased the electronic and manual handbike about two-and-a-half years ago.
It has provided more independence as previous purely manual ones meant his wife’s bicycle was often attached to the rear of his wheelchair by an aluminium bar so she could help push him along.
Referring to its recovery, Mrs Copp said: “My husband’s super relieved and happy.
“The handbike means a great deal to him. Without that, he’s completely lost.”
Police are investigating the burglary, and people are urged to come forward if they saw any suspicious activity.
Contact the Hampshire force on 101, quoting crime reference number 44200395723, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.